Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Final design...I promise.

My schedule has operated on overload, as I spend my weekdays working a very demanding full time job.  I have also taken a weekend freelance gig, so needless to say, progress on the great Roving Home project has encountered some setbacks.  But never fear, for I have gained a profound understanding of the whole picture by spending quality time with my basic design. 

I've reviewed, revised, realigned and retooled the Roving Home.  And, with the help of Google's remarkable software, "Sketch Up," I have made some amazing discoveries.

After staring for weeks at a two dimensional line drawing that I created in Photoshop, I just couldn't wrap my brain around details that only three dimensional rendering could flesh out.  From scratch, I patiently assembled a model of my interior and solved a nagging problem that I had brushed under the rug with the thinking that once I get the vehicle, "I'll just figure it out."  Laziness leads to haste, and as the old adage goes, "Haste makes waste." 

I have no desire to stand in the middle of my van after driving it home to a garage painstakingly prepared with accessories and tools, only to start my build first by wondering just where in the heck I'm going to start my build.  Time is money, and right now I've got only a few scattered moments here and there to toss the puzzle around in my brain. 

Here's the first rendering I did during my lunch break, spread out over a few days. 

That's an overhead view of the galley.  The recessed gray areas represent the stainless steel sink basin and stove top.  Stainless steel sheets will line the two gray walls that surround the galley counter top.

This a reverse of the previous angle, featuring the dinette with a foreground view of the bathroom.  Above the dinette table, you can see what represents the wall sconce I made a couple months ago.  That unit serves as a light source and also as a light box that will illuminate my photographic transparencies.  I can create a vacation image right from my ink-jet printer and fix it to the light box for an instant gallery change-over.  I must have art in my life.  To create is to live. 

Here is where Sketch UP made me see the light.


The bed platform, made with a slatted wood mattress support, will expand as it is pulled forward over the counter top on the right and the ledge on the left.  The double stacked foam layers will then be spread out, side by side, thereby creating a queen sized bed.  In reviewing the first picture, you'll notice the spice rack on the counter top. That small ridge will border the bed frame on one side, while the wall will contain it on the opposite side.  I found a very fancy wall mounted faucet that swings to one side. 
You don't want to know how much that thing costs, but it's worth every penny, because it solves a great problem with one fell swoop with simplicity and elegance.  I almost welled up with tears at the sight of it.  For so long I had understood with complete conviction that a counter mounted faucet would function as the most obvious and right way to go...yet it was seriously clogging up the flow (no pun intended) of my whole design. 

I had crazy ideas as to how my sliding bed concept would actually work.  Then I began to realize I was kidding myself as to its safety and effectiveness...until I found this faucet.

It's like saying I have to cut a straight piece of wood with a perfectly square right angle, yet I'm determined to do so using a hand-held jig saw rather than a much more expensive table saw.  I have learned through trial and error that buying that expensive table saw is the only option.  I would then make that cut and fit that square piece of wood perfectly into the spot it needs to go.  After which I would wake up every morning to a job well done, rather than my regret of a job poorly done.

Once again...

That wall mounted faucet will swing to its left and rest against the wall, freeing up room for the slatted bed frame to expand open and slide over the counter top.  The sink basin will be mounted under the counter with a nice finished edge, and the stove will be mounted flush with the counter top.  Butcher block covers will rest over the openings thereby creating a solid counter top, suitable for my nighttime transformation.

Any comments on the color scheme?  I'm thinking a dark brown stain on the cabinetry found in the original Airstream.  I'm leaning toward a light color or even just a clear sealer/urethane for the counter top.  Maybe I'll match that on the kitchen table.  The knobs are the flush-mounted push/pull variety with a chrome finish.  And, the wall over the bed and the dinette will have a textile of some sort that I think will be a light sand/blonde color.  All of this is subject to change, of course.  

As of now, all sights are pointing toward the horizon in search of the ultimate van in which I will build The Ultimate Roving Home.   


  1. Looks good man! The drawings came out really well too! Gives excellent reference for how everything will work together.

    I know I better mention that cool faucet too LOL! Very nice! I love it when you find just the right thing and it is one of those "aha!" moments :)

    My only question about your layout is the midnight bathroom runs, how hard will it be to get out of and into that bed system in the dark while doing the "gotta pea" dance especially in the fog of sleep? Okay, maybe that is just one of my things, but I am curious about how that access to the bed/bathroom is.

    Everything really looks great though Rob!

    97 Roadtrek 170P "Taj Ma Trek"

  2. Dark stain has it's positives, and I come from the stance that the only wood work that is beautiful is stained, not painted. We hate white painted woodwork!

    However, at we went aboard dozens of RVs at a recent show, we decided that those with light wood, or even a couple of high end models that had all white wood, felt much roomier and less oppressive.

    There are complete missives written about the psychological effects of color. I remember reading such when I was in college. For example, McDonalds Red and Yellow makes people want to get in,and out as fast as possible, and yet at the same time it makes them feel unaccountable happy.

    Dark will create a soothing, womb like influence. Light will be more open and uplifting.

    Ultimately you need to go with your own gut and your own preferences. I'm just an arm chair critic!

  3. Wow- looks great!! I've just discovered SketchUp and absolutely love it, though I'm still sorting out how to make simple buildings.

    I agree on the darker stain- it will be easier to feel cozy and comfortable especially if trying to nap during the day.

  4. Hey Jessica,

    Thanks for the kind words. I may want to take a quick mid afternoon recharge, but mostly I anticipate being inside for sleep time -- especially during summer when it's light out for so long.

  5. Wow that looks fantastic! Can't wait to see the finished product!

  6. Thanks, Laura Anne. I hope to begin work at the end of August. Fingers crossed!

  7. I agree with the dark stain as well. Several layers of poly will really make it pop. When you think you have enough layers,put one more.

  8. Should I sand it between coats? Or should I just sand the final layer?

  9. where it all starts is in the sanding of the raw wood.Start with a rough grit then med then high grit and sand the living daylights out of it to get a really closed pores and smooth finish,then use tac cloth with a small amount of mineral spirts on the cloth,allow enough time for the spirits to evaporate then stain it soon or the pores will begin to open back up then allow the stain to cure,it will tell you on the lable how to when it is ready to coat.Then put the first layer of poly on before the pores start to open back up.Once the first coat of poly is on the pore will not open back up so if it takes days between coats thats ok.Lightly sand with high grit (very lightly cause you only want enough to give it some abrasion and tac cloth it with water on your cloth between coats of poly after each sand.Do not sand the final coat.4 coats may be plenty,I would use a sample piece of wood to experiment with to compare what you want it to end up like.If you are going to stain use oak but there are exotics out their that when you put the poly on they darken up so much that they don,t need stain.I would get some sample pieces of different exotics and experiment.Exotics are fabulous and can make an impression.I hang out at alot of cigar bars and they all have beautiful exotics thoughout the place.Good place to see craftmanship and get inspiration and relaxing also.

  10. Drew,

    Thanks for the detailed advice. I will definitely be doing a lot of stain testing on some scrap lumber. I'll have to print out your comment and post it on a board, nearby.

  11. I just found your site a few days ago and have been reading through the earlier posts. I love all of your experimenting and planning. Your home is going to be beautiful!
    My husband and I have been fulltiming for the last 16 years in a 25' class C often parking on city streets and in store lots , so I can testify that what you are planning is very doable. I also understand your desire to be as stealth as possible, however , I think that you should consider some type of windows and larger vents and roof fans than the ones that you had pictured in an earlier post. It can get pretty hot in LA. Two inches of insulation may help some but you'll still need a way to cool down. I don't believe anyone will give roof vents a second glance. Windows will be a little tougher to disguise but maybe tinting them limousine black and covering them with a see through logo will work. Both windows and vents should be fairly easy to install even after you're finished, if you decide that you need them, but it's something that you might want to consider as you're planning.
    I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product!

  12. Karen,

    Thank you so much for the suggestions. I have been wondering whether or not the window issues will become a problem, so, I'm prepared to make adjustments after a run through. However, my plan is to install three of those vents for a twelve by 7 foot area, along with a floor vent that will aid in circulation when the fans get going. I hope that will work. As always, yet another thing to consider.

    You've obviously got the experience, and I always appreciate the pointers.

  13. Walden on Wheels blog has some good info on vents. He's lived in Box Van in San Francisco for a couple years.